Can I apply sunscreen around my eye area?

A number of you have raised this question to me so I thought I’ll take it together and address it here. Actually, I had this similar question many years ago and I raised it to a dermatologist. He was the one who got me obsessed about using sunscreen but guess what was his answer? “There’s no need to apply sunscreen on the eye area because that area would not get so much sun exposure compared to the rest of the face.” I didn’t show it to his face, but if he could read my thought bubble, he would have seen me blurting “WHAT???” Truly, I found his answer incredulous and of course I didn’t believe him; I would have been more convinced had his reason been something along the line that sunscreen can get into our eyes and irritate them.

skin around our eyes is ten times thinner than the skin on our face
I know that our eye area is perhaps less prone to sun damage compared to our cheeks but still, there is a need to protect them. In fact, the skin around our eyes is so much thinner than other parts of the face that it needs more protection! I have small sun spots around my eye area in the past when I didn’t use anything to protect the skin. I believe some of the wrinkles around the eye area are also due to improper protection. I don’t use my sunglasses all the time and face it, how many eye products contain SPF?

Sunscreens are not tested to be used around eye area
So why shouldn’t we use sunscreen around the eye area? Because the instructions say so? Well, the reason I see is that most sunscreens, especially the chemical ones, contain ingredients that are sensitive to our eyes. Sunscreens have not been tested to be used around the eye area and so manufacturers play it safe by indicating that it shouldn’t be used around the area. Hence, the usual line of thought is that it is best to avoid applying sunscreen around the area, especially on the eyelid in case the sunscreen melts and gets into our eyes and irritate them.

I use sunscreen over my eye area
I use a mineral sunscreen containing zinc oxide and I apply my sunscreen OVER my eyes. What I mean is that I do not deliberately dab the sunscreen around my eye area but instead, when I apply it on my face, I bring the lotion over my closed eyes using my palms. I may dab a little more closer to the sides of my eyes and the undereye area, but I do not apply a thick layer of the sunscreen on my eyelid. And just for those interested, my sunscreen is not rich nor greasy. I would describe the texture as just right for my skin type.

Make some evaluations
Hence, a few questions you need to ask yourself:
– what type of sunscreen do you have?
– does your sunscreen contain any ingredients that might irritate your eyes?
– is your sunscreen very moisturizing or greasy?
– are your eyes very sensitive?
– are you prone to perspiring frequently?
– would your sunscreen melt under heat?

Overly thick and rich sunscreens may promote growth of milia seeds
Generally, I find sunscreens, both chemical and mineral, pretty safe around the eyes if you can take to most of the eye creams and eye makeup. However, I would not advice you to dab a thick layer of the sunscreen over the area. Just apply a little on your palm and bring it over the area. If you’re doing this the first time and are worried, the best is to try out bit by bit first. However, if your sunscreen is very thick, rich and greasy, then it’s most likely not suitable for the eye area as it may pose problems such as the growth of milia seeds later.

Sunscreen ingredients can be drying
On the other hand, sunscreen ingredients can also be drying. I know zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are both drying agents apart from offering UV protection. Most chemical sunscreens contain alcohol and alcohol is drying for our skin too. Because the skin around our eye area tends to be thinner and more delicate, so it is advisable to ensure your eye area is well moisturized before applying the sunscreen too. This is, if your sunscreen is not already moisturizing and greasy in the first place.

So how many of you apply sunscreen over your eye area?


  1. Apple says:

    I don’t use sunscreen over my eyes area but I use concealer/BB cream with sunscreen protection around my eyes and lids. I really like it and have been doing it for a while now.

  2. Raelynn says:

    indeed it is tough to find a sunscreen that you can apply on the eye area. imagine you have to test numerous just to find one that is suitable for your unique skin, the one that fits your skin, might not be suitable for your eyes i.e sting and tear. my first realization that i have to apply sunscreen on the eye area was when i was wearing glasses. i used to think that the lenses converge the UV rays. hahahahha. i think they do.. that’s why there’s such thing as UV Coatings. but regular spectacle lenses are hardly sufficient to provide adequate protection around the whole eye.

    when i apply sunblock to the face, there’s usually some on the fingertips and i apply as though i am tapping in eye cream.

    my first noticeable millia is not from the sunscreen, but rather purging from a retinyl product (darn i thought i picked that seed out completely. hahahha).

  3. Raelynn says:

    i was reading an article on retinyl palmitate… apparently although it is retinol is soluble in oil, it can be degraded by UV light. (common knowledge), which means to say retinol creams should be avoided since it is not as efficient as a retinol serum which is absorbed and delivered into the skin directly and the retinol in creams might remain on the surface of the skin which results in the hyperpigmentation problems??

  4. Dee says:

    I’ve always wondered whether it was safe to use sunscreen around my eye area. I use mines around my eye area and I’ve never found it irritating. Its weird how the dermatologist only said that much & didn’t go into more detail. I just would stare at him to continue talking.

  5. edrienne says:

    well, i sort of ‘accidentally’ apply sunscreen around my eye area ’cause when I spread the sunscreen, sometimes there’s just too much and I end up smearing it on my eye area, too.

  6. florence says:

    whether I going out or stay at home,I always apply sunscreen around my eye area & whole face ?

  7. Blovetbeauty says:

    I apply sunscreen everywhere too … ESP at the eye cause the skin
    is so thin, I believed that it needs more protection from
    the sun …

  8. sesame says:

    Yep…I believe it needs protection from the sun.

  9. sesame says:

    Same here. ?

  10. sesame says:

    If it doesn’t irritate the area or the skin, then you might want to continue doing so?

  11. sesame says:

    Haha…I was younger and not so savvy about sun protection then. So although I didn’t believe him, I just kept quiet.

  12. sesame says:

    I know what you mean about the texture. So it’s a trial and error process. Generally, I think if it works well for the skin as in it’s not oily or thick, then it should work properly on the eye area. Don’t over apply on the eye area though.

    I got my milia seed from rose hip oil. I popped it too with a needle and after that, I was so scared of applying oil. But these two years, I started applying more and I find it doesn’t cause me anymore problems. I think it depends on the quality of the oil.

    I don’t know about retinyl products causing milia…quite surprising to find out. I know both retinol and retinyl palmitate can cause some extent of sun sensitivity and you need to use at night. But you’re right…it is probably still active for a few hours after washing so must apply sunscreen. I don’t use the ingredient on my face but recently, started on an eye cream containing it.

  13. sesame says:

    That should work cos it has some level of sun protection. Actually most powder contains it but just that we don’t apply a thick layer so powder probably not enough.

  14. pf1123 says:

    I also apply products at the eyes. And some sunscreen of course.

    Surprisingly, my eyes are frequently stinged by eye products and make then tear. For example L’Occitane’s Shea Butter Eye Balm. That was such a disappointment. I had to throw it away.

  15. Raelynn says:

    I don’t think the retinol product caused the millia, but rather purged the seed which I thought was gone ?

  16. kat says:

    i tend to apply whatever is left of the sunscreen on my palm to my eye area after i have applied it to my face. there is a tinted moisturiser by clinique – City Block SPF25, that is actually safe to be used on the eye area. the one with the higher spf is not recommended for eye area though.

  17. Rinka says:

    i actually use an eye cream with UV filters (nivea q10 one) so that i dont have to rub in thick sunscreen on my face. i believe clarins and shiseido also carry sunscreen eye creams with impressive SPF levels but my nivea one is doing a great job ?

  18. AtelierGal says:

    I used to have an eye product that contains SPF but can’t remember the name. But it’s nowhere as sticky as the regular sunscreens in the market, nor do they sting the eye.

    It is important for our eye areas to be protected from UV Rays, similar reasons to why we use sunscreens. Like you already mentioned, the skin around our eyes are more delicate. I try to apply THIN layers of serum and moisturizers(depending on the texture).

    However, I do not use sunscreen itself on the eye area, but you can consider getting AQUALABEL Milk Lotion. It’s non-greasy for my combination skin and protects the eye area at the same time.

  19. yay says:

    i always applied sunscreen like i would apply lotion…. so i didn’t even notice i’m applying eye area…. i don’t know about you but i feel like twice when i go see dermatologist i didn’t really get my question answer….

  20. Vonvon says:

    I usually dab remnants of sunscreen on my fingers around my eyes. Until I got acquainted with Lancome Neuroshield SPF30 eye cream. Have been using that since.

  21. sesame says:

    Oh an SPF30 for an eye cream? That’s impressive. The ones I’ve seen are usually only SPF15.

  22. sesame says:

    Haha…sometimes it depends on the dermatologist you go. Just like doctors, some are good, some are meh.

  23. sarynkay says:

    I use BB cream with SPF and always swipe some around the eye area with my eyes closed. and always always wear sunnies..polaroid ones to protect my eyes…

  24. sesame says:

    Hmm…Aqualabel’s stuff have alcohol if I’m not wrong and it’s listed very high up for some of them the last time I checked.

  25. sesame says:

    That’s good…I didn’t know Nivea has an eye cream. :p

  26. sesame says:

    Perhaps the ingredients were not agreeable. It’s very uncomfortable when products sting the eyes.

  27. sesame says:

    Sunnies are good protection for the eyes!

  28. pf1123 says:

    Yes. I didn’t have this problem when I use non eye specific products for the eye area. Weird.

  29. zzzmadison says:

    hmm.. i have never given a thought about this. will dab some around my eyes too starting tomorrow!

  30. Audris says:

    Chemical sunblocks sting my eye area, even if I don’t apply them explicitly in those areas. Must be the darn alcohol! In addition, they tend to dry out the skin as well.

    I prefer using physical sunblocks like Devita’s to lightly apply on the undereye and on the eyelid. Goes on light, no grease factor and more importantly, does not sting ?

  31. sesame says:

    Hope it’ll work well for you! ?

  32. sesame says:

    I have similar experience with some chemical sunscreens around my eyes too. I am also guessing it is the alcohol.

    Must give Devita a try soon. Heard so much raves about it. ?

  33. N. says:

    Ah, I have dark eye circles so I really try to use sunscreen on my under eye. However I still remember when I used sunscreen on my eyelid on a hot day when I went to walk around the city. I already sweat a lot. So a second later and the sunscreen was in my eyes. Never doing that again.

    Now I just rely on my bb cream that says containing spf 42. So I guess it’s good enough.

  34. Victoria Lewy says:

    I always use sunscreen on my face, but I never use it around my eyes and I don’t know why actually :). I have never thought about this though. I will start to apply sunscreen around my eyes tomorrow. Thank you, Sesame.

  35. sesame says:

    You’re welcome Victoria.

  36. sesame says:

    Wow…SPF42 is pretty high!

  37. Vivian says:

    Same like you, I started apply sunblock at my under eye after I noticed sun spots in that area. Before that I never thought that it was necessary.

    This is what I use for my face and eye area

    So far so good. Feels light enough and after 2 months of usage my sun spots started to fade by 50% (my estimation =p)

  38. Ana says:

    Hi everyone,

    May I ask you question?

    What kind can I use sunblock for my face? I am frustrated and I used before sunblock and uncomfortable but I stop use this.. because my skin is senstive (pretty dry-normal)

    What kind can I use suncreen natural organic? Please help me,

    and my under eyes dry and I dont know how which product for whole face and under eyes? please help,

    Thank you,

  39. sesame says:

    I don’t know where you’re based but this is the one I used from States…Marie Veronique Moisturizing Face Screen. Check my review here:

  40. Vonvon says:

    Yes, I know. And it has quite a light texture too. I was surprised to see it at Lancome counters last year. But I got my 1st tube at a sale. Almost finishing it. I think I should review this soon. ?

  41. sesame says:

    Oh great! Will keep a lookout for it! ?

  42. Jady says:

    Hello! ?
    I am 17 this year and well, i am often exposed to the strong sun rays, especially during school days. So what sunscreen product do u suggest? As after reading ur articles, i figure out that i should use it daily too! Oh, and what do you mean by double cleanse? Thanks! Pardon me, i am totally ignorant of sunscreen stuffs.

  43. sesame says:

    Maybe you can give me a budget as an indication. What products / brands are you currently using?

    Double cleanse means you wash your face twice with a gentle cleanser.

  44. Wen says:

    I’m also a big fan of sunblock! I’m using Lancome UV White SPF 50 for the face and Clarins sun wrinkle control eye control care SPF 30 for the eyes and have been using it for the past 2-3 years. I find it pretty light and it doesn’t give me millia seeds. Some say it’s pretty expensive but I don’t use a lot at one time, so it lasts quite a while.

    By the way, do you have any articles on treating pitted acne scars?

  45. Blenda says:

    I apply sunscreen to my eyes…but in the for of a stick such as this one:

    I am surprised by your derm’s answer!

  46. sesame says:

    So strange isn’t it…it also sounds as if we should walk around with heads lowered!

  47. gwen says:

    Hv u tried d lancome bb cream for eyes with spf? Tot of investing on an eye cream wif spf protection during d day and a good eye gel/cream for d nite. Aiyo i m nearing 40

  48. sesame says:

    No, not tried Lancome.

  49. Claire says:

    I have also been looking for sunscreen specially for the eye.
    I have tried lancome uvexpert bb cream for eye, it is too too oily. Milia seeds form. U can feel it on your hand, it is damn sticky, no matter how little i put. Regret of buying. Argg… I bought because my friend bought it. Maybe because she wears make-up everyday, so this is like a base to concealers/powders which tend to be drying.
    Clinique dermawhite for eye spf 15, comes with another eye cream, the sun block itself is very dry and leaves a white cast. If put on my lower eyelid, it settles to my fine lines (30 yrs old) and doesn;t look good. But i think i will wanna buy again to apply to my upper eyelid. Because i can’t put anything oily in the upper eyelid due to the folds from my experience in using the clarins one below.
    Clarins one is spf30, i think this is fine with the under eye, but not for the eye lids, cos it gives me oil seeds to my upper lid even if i apply a little. It is sticky but not as sticky as the lancome. So just a bit.
    I am so concerned with upper eye lid because i have discoloration on my upper eye lid which tends to be darker and yellowish. This maybe due to sun exposure or aging. My sun glass (with degrees) is not that big, doesn’t cover my upper eye lids. Sigh! I am looking for bigger/affordable prescription sunglasses but hard to find one. That;s y thinking of going back to the clinique drier eye sunblock.

  50. Sesame says:

    Finding the right product can be tricky and it’s quite a challenge to find a sunscreen for the eye area. I just dab my current one around but don’t really apply over.

  51. Delores says:

    Actually, products with retinol/retinyl palmitate ALWAYS cause me to get a lot of milia on my forehead and temples, within a few days of starting to use the product. This has been the case for over 15 years. It is hard to find products these days that don’t have some form of vitamin A/retinyl/retinol in them.
    A newer ingredient that is all the rage and good for most people is hyaluronic acid, which also has given me milia from the two different HA products I’ve tried (I tried one 18 months ago, and one this week).
    My forehead was absolutely clear and flat 4 days ago, and now there are visible, stubborn, years-lasting milia bumps all over it, and nothing changed except I started to use an expensive gel moisturizer which I had made sure didn’t have retinol/retinyl/vitamin a in it, but had not thought about the hyaluronic acid that is in it.
    My milia do not budge from dermabrasion or glycolic acid and only come out by being removed with a needle/lancet, causing spots and scars, and it’s not something to undergo lightly.
    Even when you are in your 40s, it is still awful when your skin looks a mess.

  52. Sesame says:

    Sounds a bit strange but probably they don’t agree with your skin, causing you to get milia. Since you know they’re the cause, then you should avoid by all means.

  53. Emily says:

    The reason that your derm said that may be because products around that area can be taken under the skin but then get trapped as they cant get out. This can form a bulge of product under the skin which some people mistakenly believe is due to age! I know… this has happened to me. The problem is if you want to minimalise wrinkles around the eyes then using retin a under your eyes is a good idea. But then you do have to use sunscreen because you can’t always rely on sunglasses.

  54. Sesame says:

    Trap under the skin? Hmm…have heard about this. But wouldn’t retin also accumulate?

  55. CK says:

    I apply sunscreen on every nook of my face. My VMV Hypoallergenics sunscreen warns not to apply it on membranous areas but I still do! I just make sure I apply moisturizer underneath the sunscreen. I apply both of them via the “La Mer technique”. I also wear eyeglasses that has a UV screen. I cleanse well in the evening; most of my products–cleansers to sunscreens–are made for sensitive skin, usu. safe for people prone to eczema and rosacea.

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